Come and see…
Behold the Lamb of God! – An Invitation to “Come and See” in the Saint John’s Bible
Written by Paul Anderson
In Donald Jackson’s painting, “Call of the Disciples” in Volume 6 (Gospels and Acts) in The Saint John’s Bible, John the Baptist’s declaration in John 1:29 and 36 if featured: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Note the painting’s featuring of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus when he came up out of the water (v. 32), pointing also to the sacrifice of Jesus for the life of the world at the end of the gospel story.
Featured also in his painting is the presentation of two groups of people, in addition to John and Jesus. In the middle-left section of the painting are multitudes being pointed to Jesus by John. He even declares that pointing to Jesus is the whole reason he has come baptizing, to proclaim the identity of Jesus to the world as the Son of God (v. 31).
The third group of people, in the lower part of the painting, features twelve figures representing the twelve apostles. While only four followers of Jesus are named in John 1 (Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael), as well as an unnamed disciple, their spontaneous embrace of Jesus as followers sets the stage for the more formal calling of the twelve in Mark 3:13-19.
To these first followers, Jesus invites them “Come and see” (John 1:39). As they come and see where Jesus is staying, Jesus is attested in a number of additional ways. First, they call him “Rabbi” (which is translated, “teacher,” v. 38). Second, Andrew tells Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, “Anointed One,” v. 41). Third, Philip describes Jesus as “the one about whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth,” inviting him also, “come and see” (vv. 45-46). Fourth, Nathanael then climactically exclaims (v. 49), “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
As John the Baptist heralds the culminative work of Christ as the beginning of his ministry—the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world—the invitation to come and see is extended to the reader as well as actants in the narrative. As we enter Holy Week this year, may each of us do so with open hearts and minds, seeking to discern, as the Apostle Paul would say (2 Cor 5:19), how “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Written by Paul Anderson